In 1967 The Beatles, in their classic song, A Day in a Life, noted that there were “four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” which John Lennon observed was enough to fill the Albert Hall. I wonder how many holes there are currently in Blackburn?.
According to figures obtained under a freedom of information request Britain`s roads now have one pothole every mile. They would apparently fill an area twice the size of the Isle of Wight.
As a Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in Cycling Accident Claims and a regular cyclist I am surprised it is not more than this. I have been a regular London cyclist for over 15 years and have noticed that roads in and around our capital have deteriorated significantly in recent years. Britain is losing its battle to maintain its roads. Years of underinvestment and several harsh winters have resulted in us having approximately 200,000 potholes in the country. This is a disgrace and is costing lives. I have acted for several bereaved spouses who have lost their partners in cycle fatalities caused by potholes as well as numerous serious injuries.
The highway authorities are under a statutory duty to maintain our roads pursuant to section 41 of The Highways Act 1980. In my experience whenever a claim is made against a highway authority they will invariably argue that they have a statutory defence pursuant to Section 58 of the Highways Act in that they “took reasonable care to ensure that the highway was not hazardous to users of the highway”. They will produce inspection records (usually drive by inspections) and will deny that the pothole was in existence until after their last inspection. I am often doubtful that these inspections are carried out with any degree of thoroughness.
It is vital that members of the public who spot dangerous holes should report them. The council should repair them within 24 hours if they are hazardous. I also strongly recommend that potholes are registered on the CTC`s fillthathole website. If a pothole has been registered on this website this will be evidence of the council`s knowledge of the defect and thus could be crucial in supporting any claim that anyone may wish to make at a later date for their injuries or losses.
This country has been in a financial crisis which has severely impacted on public spending but surely this can be no justification for neglecting our roads and putting lives at risk.